For the past 6 years I switched on a daily basis between English and Romanian. I worked for international companies where English was the lingua franca and at home I speak Romanian with my girlfriend.
Overtime, this changed my Romanian vocabulary dramatically. At the moment I speak some sort of Rongleză, as we say in Romanian, a mix of English words that are inserted randomly in my Romanian conversations.
Because I developed this vocabulary in The Netherlands, where most of my Romanian friends are in the same situation, I actually never realized how big this change was. Here nobody even flinches if they hear a word from a different language randomly inserted in a conversation. It’s normal. They do the same.
However, a few days ago, some Romanian friends of mine came to visit, and as I was telling them stories about one thing and another, I realized I have to stop from time to time because they had no idea what the hell I meant. I was using so many English words, in an unexpected context and probably with a Romanian accent, that it was impossible for them to follow me.
So where am I going with this story? Communication gaps.
I think that my story is a perfect metaphor for a phenomenon that often happens in companies, no matter the size. Behind closed doors, in small meeting rooms, after months of developing projects we end up creating our own language. This becomes natural.
The danger here is that we end up using these words in conversations with customers or even other internal teams. And much like my friends these other people will have no idea what are we talking about.
I believe that communication is one of the foundation blocks of a successful company. This is why I think it’s so important to realize this phenomenon and from time to time have a sanity check on our vocabulary.
So here’s some food for thought:
Can you think of some the words you defined within your team and which you use in your external communication, be it with customers or other departments?
Photo by Eddie Codel, under CC